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Union Watch Highlights

Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s ‘Investment’ Pays Off Big Time
By Jack Humphreville, February 13, 2012, CityWatch LA
Bloomberg reporters Chris Palmeri and Rodney Yap have created quite a commotion with their February 7th Bloomberg expose which stated that our Department of Water and Power had “the highest paid employees in the City of Los Angeles, earning on average 40% more than other municipal workers, even those with identical job titles.” But do not blame these extraordinary compensation and benefit arrangements on DWP and its management. Rather, the responsibility for this very expensive fiasco that sticks it to Ratepayers to the tune of more than $250 million a year belongs to the super secretive Executive Employee Relations Committee (the “EERC”) and, in particular, the fiscally imprudent axis of Mayor Villaraigosa, Eric Garcetti, the former City Council President and wannabe mayor, and Council Member Dennis Zine, the former chair of the Personnel Committee and candidate for Controller. (read article)

In Wisconsin, assessing a new labor law’s impact
By Daniel C. Vock, February 13, 2012, Stateline
James Ladwig recently took over the job of Racine County executive. He was sworn in last April, not long after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a controversial bill curtailing the bargaining rights of state and local workers. So with the new job, Ladwig got a new set of rules for governing his county. For the most part, the new rules suit Ladwig just fine. Now that unions have less of a say, local leaders like Ladwig and school officials have more options for balancing their budgets. One way Ladwig and the Racine County board  exercised this freedom is by putting volunteer inmates from the county jail to work shoveling snow from sidewalks, mowing the medians on state highways and doing landscaping. Before the Wisconsin law passed, unions blocked the move on the grounds that if the work was to be done, it had to be done by union members. Under the new law,  unions can no longer block the program. (read article)

L.A. DWP’s gold-plated jobs
Editorial, February 10, 2012, Los Angeles Times
Few kids grow up dreaming of becoming a parking lot attendant, but the job can be quite lucrative — at least if you land one at the L.A. Department of Water and Power. According to a report in Bloomberg News, garage monitors at the DWP made, on average, $74,408 a year; nationally, the average salary for this position is $21,250. That’s just one of many eye-popping figures unveiled by Bloomberg, which found that DWP workers make on average 40% more than other city of Los Angeles employees, even when they’re doing nearly identical jobs. For example, carpenters at the DWP averaged $102,732 in 2010, compared with $65,201 at the general services department. DWP auto painters pulled down an average of $109,192, compared with $59,901 at the Fire Department. Overall, utility employees had an average salary of $96,805, while other city employees averaged $68,822. The reason for these inflated salaries isn’t mysterious. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is among the biggest campaign contributors in Los Angeles, which means that at contract time, the DWP union finds itself in the enviable position of negotiating with city politicians who may owe their own jobs to the union. (read article)

San Jose employee unions filed ethics complaint against Mayor Reed, other city officials over pension costs
By Tracy Seipel, February 10, 2012, Mercury News
In the first salvo of what promises to be a fierce battle over a June ballot measure involving city worker pensions, employee unions Thursday accused San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and other top city officials of overstating projected retirement cost increases. In an 11-page complaint to the city’s Elections Commission, which investigates allegations of ethical violations, the unions allege that Reed, city Retirement Services Director Russell Crosby and former retirement services employee Michael Moehle “knowingly misled and misrepresented” to the City Council and public the five-year projections for city retirement costs, saying it could be as high as $650 million. That figure, the complaint alleges, was used often enough by Reed that it became the basis of a proposal by the mayor and council last year to consider officially declaring that the city was facing a fiscal emergency. And during a Thursday news conference to announce the complaint, some union officials also said the mayor’s actions forced employee concessions that did not have to be made. “They can spin it however they wish,” said Reed on Thursday. “The reality is what drove negotiations with the unions was the fact that if we did not get the 10 percent reductions in total compensation, we would have had to lay off more police and firefighters.” (read article)

‘Right-to-work’ bill is official in Indiana
By Stephon Johnson, New York Amsterdam News, February 10, 2012
Despite a Herculean effort by labor unions and high-profile support from the NFL Players Association in the week leading up to the Super Bowl, Indiana’s labor unions lost its battle with the anti-union Republican Senate and the state became the 23rd so-called “right-to-work” state. With the loss, agency fee workers, those who refuse to join a union but are still protected by its collective bargaining agreement and are represented by the union in labor disputes, no longer have to pay any fees to the union to receive union benefits and protections. The legislation passed because Democrats were outnumbered 60-40 in the State House. It is a bill that Indiana labor isn’t too happy about. (read article)

Arizona Lawmakers Target Public Workers’ Unions
by Ted Robbins, February 9, 2012, NPR
Labor unions plan to rally in front of the Arizona State Capitol on Thursday afternoon to protest four bills quickly moving through the state Legislature that could make last year’s Wisconsin labor laws look modest by comparison. Three of the four bills restrict the way unions collect dues and the way workers get paid for union activities. The fourth bans collective bargaining between governments and government workers: state and local. Unlike Wisconsin, it affects all government employees, including police and firefighters. Nick Dranias of the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, a libertarian/conservative think tank that helped Murphy write the bills, says public-sector workers in Arizona make about 6 percent more in salary and benefits than their private-sector counterparts. “You’re not in government, you know, to collect a fat paycheck,” Dranias says. “You’re in government to serve. And if you get paid reasonably, that’s nice, but the moment you feel the need to organize collectively and create laws like collective-bargaining laws that give you special privileges to negotiate and extract compensation not seen in the private sector, you’ve gone too far.” (read article)

Fresno County, union agree to March talks
February 9, 2012, The Fresno Bee
Fresno County has reversed course and will come back to the bargaining table with workers from a union that walked off the job for three days in January. The 4,100-member Service Employees International Union will meet with the county March 2-4 in Fresno to discuss contract and unfair labor practice disputes, both sides said Thursday. The meeting comes after the union staged a strike in protest of pay cuts that averaged more than 9% — a reduction that union officials called unaffordable and unfairly negotiated. County leaders said during the strike that they’re willing to entertain a written proposal from the union if serious concessions are offered. Union officials countered that concessions mean submitting to county demands, and they would prefer to sit down and talk with county negotiators. (read article)

Right-to-Work Revolution Takes on Big Labor
By Edward Morrissey, The Fiscal Times, February 9, 2012
Last week, Indiana became the 23rd state in the US to adopt right-to-work laws that prohibit closed shops and mandatory union-dues fees in workplaces. The change was notable for two reasons.  First, it had been more than a decade since any state adopted right-to-work laws. But more importantly, Indiana is the first rust belt state – where manufacturing provided most of the economy and unions controlled large portions of the labor force – to pass such laws. Few doubt that Indiana needs some changes to boost its economic development.  At the time of the law’s passage, Indiana ranked 38th in employment with a 9 percent jobless rate.  Their ranking for per capita income had fallen from 33rd in 2000 to 42nd in 2010, and their state rankings for 10-, 20-, and 30-year improvement in per-capita income range from 45th to 48th.  Only Georgia, Nevada, and Michigan did worse on the 10-year measure. (read article)

SC House approves another anti-union measure
February 9, 2012, CBS Money Watch
The South Carolina House has approved a bill Republicans say further strengthens the state’s already tough anti-union law. Democrats argued Wednesday the measure is unnecessary duplication in a state that already ranks among the least unionized. Union members in 2011 made up just 3.4 percent of South Carolina’s workforce. The bill approved by an 86-25 vote in the House would require unions to submit detailed financial data to the state’s labor agency. They already must report the information to the federal Department of Labor. The measure would also increase civil and criminal penalties for unions that break the state’s right-to-work law and require employers to post that law. (read article)

Maine Union Members Rally to Protest Bills They say Hurt Workers
By Patty B. Wight, February 9, 2012, Maine Public Broadcasting Network
More than 200 workers from across the state gathered in Augusta today for the Maine AFL-CIO’s annual Labor Lobby Day. They’re worried about three bills that they say would attack workers’ rights. After a morning meeting to discuss the bills and get tips on how to lobby, they capped off the event with a press conference asking legislators to “walk in their shoes” before deciding to pass the legislation. Workers packed a grand staircase in the Hall of Flags, holding signs that said, “Stop the Attacks” and “Walk a Mile in Our Shoes.” To emphasize their point, there was a table at the bottom of the stairs displaying shoes from a variety of jobs: a nurse, a ship builder, a firefighter, and an office worker, among others. The workers say there are three bills that, if enacted, would be equivalent to kicking them when they’re down. One puts limits on union dues, another on workers’ compensation, and a third on unemployment insurance. (read article)

New Hampshire bill to curtail union returns
By Garrett Brnger, February 9, 2012, Associated Press
New Hampshire legislation curtailing union powers that Democratic Gov. John Lynch squelched last year resurfaced Thursday in revised form at a legislative committee hearing. Supporters and opponents once again lined up on the issue of collective bargaining during the meeting of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee. Rep. Will Smith, R-New Castle and the bill’s sponsor, said the revised legislation was “clearer” and would be more acceptable to the legislature. He denied accusations that he was pushing a “union-busting bill.” “This is not an anti-union bill. It’s a pro union-member bill,” Smith said as the largely union audience laughed. Currently, public workers do not have to be in a union and pay union dues. But when a union negotiates worker contracts, both union members and non-union members must pay agency fees and both are covered by the contract. (read article)

Occupy DC, labor unions to protest CPAC meeting
By Aubrey Whelan, February 8th, 2012, Washington Examiner
Occupy DC will join several major labor unions to protest the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend, hoping to divert attention from appearances by Republican presidential candidates at one of the premier gatherings of the nation’s conservative activists. The “Occupy CPAC” protest is being organized by the AFL-CIO but will trumpet a message popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement — “let the voices of the 99 percent be heard” — during the protests scheduled for noon and 5 p.m. Friday. The demonstration at Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where CPAC is meeting from Thursday to Saturday, will include Occupy tents, an “inflatable fat cat” and mock stump speeches, said AFL-CIO organizer Chris Garlock. “It’s all in good fun, but with a very serious message in terms of representing the 99 percent,” said Garlock, who expects the protest to be non-confrontational. (read article)

Unions push back against Sacramento’s charter commission
By Ryan Lillis, February 8, 2012, Sacramento Bee
Labor unions – those influential groups that have powered many a City Council campaign – aren’t thrilled with the council’s decision Tuesday night to place a charter review commission on the November ballot. Hours after the council voted 7-2 to move forward with the ballot measure Tuesday, the president of the city police union told City Manager John Shirey he was suspending negotiations between his union and city officials. Other unions are worried about allowing an outside commission to dive into – and potentially rewrite – the way the city is governed. The police union’s argument is about dollars and cents. Mark Tyndale, president of the Sacramento Police Officers Association, said he was concerned about the cost of a commission and that he refuses “to consider further concessions that will only be used to fund the commission.” The cops aren’t alone in their feelings. The firefighters union also blasted the commission idea. (read article)

LA’s $100,000 Carpenters Show Union’s Clout
By Christopher Palmeri and Rodney Yap, February 7, 2012, Bloomberg
In the first salvo of what promises to be a fierce battle over a June ballot measure involving city worker pensions, employee unions Thursday accused San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and other top city officials of overstating projected retirement cost increases. In an 11-page complaint to the city’s Elections Commission, which investigates allegations of ethical violations, the unions allege that Reed, city Retirement Services Director Russell Crosby and former retirement services employee Michael Moehle “knowingly misled and misrepresented” to the City Council and public the five-year projections for city retirement costs, saying it could be as high as $650 million. That figure, the complaint alleges, was used often enough by Reed that it became the basis of a proposal by the mayor and council last year to consider officially declaring that the city was facing a fiscal emergency. And during a Thursday news conference to announce the complaint, some union officials also said the mayor’s actions forced employee concessions that did not have to be made. “They can spin it however they wish,” said Reed on Thursday. “The reality is what drove negotiations with the unions was the fact that if we did not get the 10 percent reductions in total compensation, we would have had to lay off more police and firefighters.” (read article)

Bloated Union Contracts Have Busted State Budgets
By Liz Peek, January 18, 2012, The Fiscal Times
Is it possible that the real divide in the United States today is between unions and… everybody else? Consider the issues making headlines: education reform, busted state budgets, the battle to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, free trade agreements, Occupy Wall Street,  the fight to make Indiana a right-to-work state. What these stories have in common is the waning influence of organized labor and the all-out battle by union leaders to hold on. Take the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative. Education Secretary Duncan recently warned that several states, including New York, might not receive monies earlier awarded through that program because they have not followed through on required reforms. The stumbling block? Teacher evaluations. In New York, the opposition to proposed reforms by unions – unions that constantly complain about inadequate funding — could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. (read article)

About the author: Jack Dean is editor of PensionTsunami.org, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.

Union Watch Highlights

Unions and Rebranded ACORN Behind Violent Occupy San Francisco Clashes With Police
By Lee Stranahan, January 23, 2012, Big Government
In San Francisco this past weekend, the Occupy movement bolstered by labor unions and the rebranded California ACORN group ACCE once again terrorized private businesses and got into direct clashes that included throwing furniture, bricks and Bibles at police officers. This was another “Day of Action” for Occupy San Francisco, in a move that was designed to show the world that #Occupy is still relevant despite being thrown out of their encampments. 23 protesters were arrested and two police officers were injured. As one activist said to the San Francisco Examiner, “I think things went well on Friday.” The significant thing to note here is how blatantly unions and ACCE were involved in these riots and actions against police officers. Back in November, I videotaped how ACCE and the unions — including the SEIU and UAW –choreographed the takeover of Bank of America using Occupy as their front group. (read article)

California civil service unions in denial on pension costs
By Dan Walters, January 23, 2012, Sacramento Bee
Whenever someone suggests that California’s public employee pension systems need reform, civil service unions react dismissively, often with attacks on the credentials or even the morals of critics. When, for example, a Public Policy Institute of California poll found strong support – even among public workers themselves – for Gov. Jerry Brown’s middle-of-the-road pension reform plan, the union-backed Californians for Retirement Security reacted thusly: “These poll results are not surprising. They amount to more fallout from a sustained and unrelenting misinformation campaign being fed to Californians,” and continued: “Millions of public servants in California are doing their jobs and planning their futures with the promise of retirement security made to them. Even they are being peppered, however, with misleading and disproportionate examples of the tiny fraction of six-figure pensions and isolated cases of abuse. Pensions equal less than 3 percent of this state’s beleaguered budget, while California corporations swim in profits and are dodging contributing tens of billions to state coffers through a slew of tax breaks.” (read article)

Line of Scrimmage Forms in Indianapolis Over Union Bill
By Monica Davey, January 22, 2012, New York Times
This city is in full preen for its moment in the spotlight, its first Super Bowl. Everywhere, workers sprouted from cherry pickers over the weekend, hanging football banners from signposts, windows, buildings. The constant beeping of machinery backing up filled the air as an 800-foot zip line was built in a Super Bowl Village that is emerging downtown. And right outside the Statehouse, the intersection formally known as Capitol and Washington has fancy new honorary street signs — Dolphins Drive and Browns Boardwalk. But inside the Statehouse, people are consumed by something else entirely: a partisan fight over union strength has boiled over. The standoff, three weeks old, is over whether Indiana should become the first state in the Midwest manufacturing belt to adopt legislation banning union contracts from requiring nonunion members to pay fees for representation. (read article)

Oakland schools try new way of placing teachers
By Jill Tucker, January 22, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle
In the world outside public education, people apply for a job they want, interview with their potential boss, compete against other applicants and are ultimately selected if they look like a good fit for the position. It doesn’t work that way in public education. In schools, teachers do all the normal things to get hired, but when it comes to placement, seniority is what counts, not the perfect fit. The teacher with the longest tenure in a district gets first dibs on any available job at a school, with the principal – the school’s boss – getting little or no input. School district officials in Oakland want to change that, believing that it’s in the best interests of students when a teacher – new, veteran or in between – wants to work at a school and the school wants that teacher. It’s about “recognizing that a deep and high-quality match between teacher and school is far more complex than who has been in Oakland longer,” said Superintendent Tony Smith, who is leading the charge to overhaul the deeply entrenched hiring system. The idea isn’t popular with the teachers union, which fears that a system based on a subjective selection process will be more of a popularity contest than one that respects the value of an experienced teacher. (read article)

San Jose city councilman avoids union label on campaign flier By Internal Affairs Team
January 21, 2012, Mercury News
It used to be de rigueur for local politicians — Republicans excepted — to get their campaign literature printed at union shops. Back in the 1980s, the journalists’ annual spoof, the Gridiron Show, even featured a big musical number called “Look for the Union Label.” But in his first campaign piece of this election cycle, San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio, a Democrat who is no darling of the unions, got a glossy double-sided piece printed at a nonunion shop. “Printing done by a small business in District 6 on recycled paper,” the piece said, making up for the lack of union affiliation with a nod toward local businesses and environmentalists. “It’s much cheaper if you don’t go union,” said Oliverio, who has incurred the unions’ wrath by pushing for smaller pensions and suggesting that volunteers can help staff libraries. The campaign piece, incidentally, says that in his five years on the council, Oliverio has never missed a council meeting or even a council committee meeting. We’re tempted to tell him to get a life. But then, he does represent some of us here at IA. Oliverio is opposed in the June election by attorney Steve Kline, who does have union backing. (read article)

2012 the year of the union contract in Orange County
Editorial, January 20, 2012, Orange County Register
John Moorlach, incoming chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, is scheduled Tuesday to deliver the State of the County address, laying out the year’s challenges and policy objectives. Undoubtedly, the biggest responsibility for supervisors this year will be contract negotiations with three of the county’s largest and most powerful public employee unions: the Orange County Employees Association, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs and the Orange County Managers Association. In their negotiations, supervisors should especially target three areas for reform: employee pension benefits, special-pay bonuses and compensation levels. In a phone interview, we were encouraged by Mr. Moorlach’s commitment to reform. While he did not provide details of his speech, he emphasized a recurring theme of his. “It’s going to take collaboration,” he said. “The economy is down on us, and this is the year that something has to be done.” (read article)

Illinois forced to re-hire former mob bookie, thanks to powerful Teamsters union
By Dane Placko, January 20, 2012, Fox News
FOX Chicago’s investigators have learned that the state of Illinois has been ordered to re-hire a former mob bookie, and cut him a check for more than $100,000. Ralph Peluso was fired in 2010 after we started asking questions about how he landed on the state payroll. He is now back on the job, thanks to the powerful Teamsters union. Peluso allegedly took plenty of bets during his long career as an outfit bookmaker. But even he may be stunned at how he beat the odds and scored a major payday at the expense of Illinois taxpayers. (read article)

Judge backs union, says Connecticut must keep 1,248 state troopers on its force
By Brian Lockhart, January 19, 2012, Connecticut Post
A Superior Court judge has agreed with the state police union that the state must have at least 1,248 troopers on the payroll at all times. Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief counsel, Andrew McDonald, plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Malloy’s administration last summer argued it was not bound by a 1998 minimum police staffing law as it moved ahead with laying off 56 rookie cops to help balance the budget. “This is a classic example of a statute which is directory, saying what should happen as opposed to what must happen,” McDonald said in an interview at the time. And, in fact, the 1,248 minimum has only been met in 2001, 2007 and 2008. Malloy took office in January 2010. The state police union — long frustrated with lawmakers’ willingness to ignore the minimum — decided to challenge the matter in court last summer. The state wanted the case dismissed. But on Friday, Judge James Graham denied the state’s motion in part because he views the 1,248 figure as mandatory. (read article)

Dress on Your Own Time, Officers
Editorial, January 19, 2012, Orange County Register
Taxpayers, reform advocates and those concerned with responsible government budgeting and reining in the power of public employee unions claimed a small victory this month when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a lawsuit against the city of San Diego by its police officers, seeking back pay and overtime for tasks including putting on their uniforms before coming to work. The nation’s highest court sent a message to police unions: Get dressed on your own time, like the rest of us. The court’s Jan. 9 decision upheld lower-court rulings against San Diego police officers seeking pay for “donning and doffing” their uniforms, answering emails and performing other random tasks before they were officially on the clock. The lawsuit was originally filed by the police officers union in 2005 on behalf of about 1,500 current and retired officers; it sought millions of dollars from the city. (read article)

Bloated Union Contracts Have Busted State Budgets
By Liz Peek, January 18, 2012, The Fiscal Times
Is it possible that the real divide in the United States today is between unions and… everybody else? Consider the issues making headlines: education reform, busted state budgets, the battle to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, free trade agreements, Occupy Wall Street,  the fight to make Indiana a right-to-work state. What these stories have in common is the waning influence of organized labor and the all-out battle by union leaders to hold on. Take the Obama Administration’s Race to the Top initiative. Education Secretary Duncan recently warned that several states, including New York, might not receive monies earlier awarded through that program because they have not followed through on required reforms. The stumbling block? Teacher evaluations. In New York, the opposition to proposed reforms by unions – unions that constantly complain about inadequate funding — could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars. (read article)

State Senator decries ‘passiveness’ by labor unions in Westerly, Rhode Island
By Ted Nesi, January 18, 2012, WPRI-TV
State Sen. Frank Ciccone is making his presence felt far from his Providence district. Ciccone, a powerful State House Democrat who works as a field representative for the Rhode Island Laborers’ District Council union, has asked all unionized school employees in Westerly to attend a School Committee meeting Wednesday night at Town Hall. “Passiveness by public sector members to engage in fighting for their rights has been a problem,” Ciccone wrote in a letter obtained by WPRI.com. “You too are residents, taxpayers and voters in Westerly – LET’S SHOW THEM THAT WE ARE A UNITED FORCE.” “Them,” in this case, are apparently allies of Mario Celico and Jay Goodman, two school committee members who resigned this month from the subcommittee negotiating a new contract with Local 808. They said they were protesting School Committee Chairman David Patten’s successful creation of a separate negotiation team to deal with the teachers union. (read article)

4,000 Fresno County workers will go on strike starting Monday
By Kurtis Alexander, January 18, 2012, Fresno Bee
Fresno County’s largest labor union gave notice Wednesday that it will strike in protest of recent pay cuts, setting the stage for some 4,100 workers to walk off the job for three days starting Monday. The move, which follows months of acrimony between county management and the Service Employees International Union, threatens to disrupt many public services. Social programs, such as child support, food stamps and welfare, as well as libraries and administrative offices face potential hitches. So does the jail and juvenile hall, where most correctional officers are represented by the union. County managers said late Wednesday they had a contingency plan in place to assure that essential services, including public safety, would be maintained. They were yet to notify the departments of the strike, having just received notice. Fresno County’s labor union plans to strike on Monday in protest of latest pay cuts. About 4,100 workers will walk off the job for three days. “The union has been threatening this for a long time. Each of the departments should be ready,” said county Personnel Director Beth Bandy. Union officials declined to comment. (read article)

Cuomo lobs political grenade at public-employee unions; proposes radical pension reform
By Erik Kriss, January 18, 2012, New York Post
Gov. Cuomo lobbed a political grenade at New York’s powerful public-employee unions yesterday, proposing a radical pension overhaul for future city and state workers as part of his $132.5 billion state budget plan. Cuomo said the plan would save New York City $30 billion in pension costs over 30 years, while saving $83 billion for the state and local governments outside the city over the same period. “We can no longer sustain the current pension system,” Cuomo said, citing a projected 185 percent treasury-busting increase in pension costs from 2009 to 2015 if nothing is done. “This is devastating to the state and the local governments,” he said of the rising costs. “We need pension reform. We need it desperately.” Under the proposal, Cuomo would add a new pension tier for new employees that would raise the retirement age from 62 to 65 and increase worker contributions from the current 3 percent to 4 percent for lower wage earners and as much as 6 percent for higher wage earners. (read article)

No union labor used at DNC speech site, contractor says
By Byron Tau, January 18, 2012, Politico
One of the contractors responsible for building Bank of America stadium in Charlotte, N.C. is ‘praising’ President Obama and the Democratic Party for holding a convention event there, calling the stadium an ‘outstanding example’ of the free enterprise system. Brett McMahon, president of the concrete construction firm Miller & Long DC and the spokesman for the anti-labor, pro-business group Halt the Assault, notes that the stadium where President Obama will formally accept the nomination was built by non-unionized workers. “It is a great example of a grand monument that was built entirely union-free. Furthermore, unlike many sports facilities, there was very, very little public expenditure for the Panthers Stadium. It stands as an outstanding example of the free enterprise system at work. We are certain that the DNC will hold successful events there for their donors and delegates,” McMahon said in a statement. There have already been previous flare-ups with labor groups upset about the choice of North Carolina as the convention site. (read article)

California labor board denies Fresno County unions’ pleas
Jan. 17, 2012, Fresno Bee
The state labor board on Tuesday denied requests by two Fresno County labor groups to help halt county-ordered wage cuts. Service Employee International Union and the California Nurses Association both asked the state to seek court injunctions blocking their new labor contracts. The groups contend that the county did not negotiate fairly and is treating employees poorly. Both groups, which represent more than 3,000 people combined, face pay cuts of 9% or more. County officials have said the cuts are unfortunate, but necessary. The state Public Employment Relations Board did not comment on its decision. (read article)

About the author: Jack Dean is editor of PensionTsunami.org, formed to monitor developments in all three pension spheres nationwide — public employees, corporations and social security. PensionTsunami, like UnionWatch, is a project of the California Public Policy Center. Dean is a former newspaper editor and a past executive director of the Reason Foundation. He has been active in politics for more than three decades and currently serves as president of the Fullerton Association of Concerned Taxpayers.